September 19, 2011 | fashion

Topman and their Top Notch Sexism

Last week, the interwebs went cuh-razy when Topman made the rather misguided decision to sell these ridiculously sexist T Shirts. As is pretty much always the case when large companies are called out for doing something more than a little moronic, they quickly backtracked, issued a half-baked apology and pulled the T Shirts (sorry sexists, you’ll have to buy your offensive apparel elsewhere now). I’m outraged that there even needed to be outrage for these to be removed from shops. What this should really start is a larger discussion about how it would be deemed acceptable for these T Shirts to be sold in the first place. So let’s start it!

Topman’s apology actually included these words: ‘Whilst we would like to stress that these T-shirts were meant to be light-hearted and carried no serious meaning, we have made the decision to remove these from store and online as soon as possible.’ Really Topman? Like, for realz? Asking what ‘breed’ someone’s girlfriend is, equating women to animals and not so subtly calling us bitches is just light hearted, yeah? And a T Shirt that lists many of the excuses men who commit domestic violence use in a check list format, not offensive at all? ‘No serious meaning’? The mind boggles really.

What I find more disturbing is thinking about the process that must be gone through to even get these shirts to the shop floor in the first place. How many people would have had to give these the OK? And that’s really the issue here, that this casual sexism has permeated society to a level where apparently execs at a major fashion retailer don’t even bat an eye when something as offensive as these T Shirts cross their desks.

Being a raging sexist then saying ‘but it’s just a joke!’ is just as cringeworthy as ‘I’m not racist, I have tons of black friends!’ When I get rude comments on this blog, usually from men, insulting my appearance, their defense is most likely that it doesn’t matter because ‘it’s just the internet!’ At some point, somewhere, someone has to take responsibility for their actions and the messages they’re putting out there.

To speak about women this way is wholly unacceptable. I don’t care if it was intended to be ‘light hearted’ – it isn’t. We have enough casual sexism to deal with on a day to day basis without a major brand printing T Shirts , encouraging men to wear their sexism blazed proudly across their chests (though the upside I guess is that we can spot the douchebags quicker?). Then to say in your apology that it was just ‘light hearted’ and ‘carried no serious meaning’ reinforces the notion that this kind of thing is OK and we are just being hysterical spoil sports for not laughing along with you.

And yet again, there are no repercussions. So we are just expected to swallow it, but my oh my, that weak apology is a bitter pill.

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14 Comments

Molly

HAHA I really cannot believe that people get paid to come up with these sorts of designs, and that they are then approved by someone! It amazes me.

Amy

Hi Bangs!

Thanks so much for publishing this, Bangs! I’m so glad that Topman did decide to remove the t-shirts from sale.

However, what I found more disturbing was the comments left on the STopman Facebook group, and while a lot of them could be attributed to trolls and the like, a huge majority joined the group in order to abuse and question the sanity of the people that found the t-shirt offensive.

It’s good to see that I am not the only person to be shocked by these t-shirts, and I really hope that this will send a message to every other retailer out there. However, I think that this event has raised some very interesting questions about many people’s attitude towards women in general, and has highlighted that sexism is a subject that hasn’t been fully dealt with yet.

Once again, thank you Bangs! xxx

Claire Nelson

Ugh. That “breed” tshirt is vile. Who are the guys who wear shirts like these? Gross. Also, the first time I saw the red tshirt I didn’t initially think “domestic violence” – I envisaged a young guy getting into a fight at a pub with another dude. Imagined him pointing to his tshirt and telling the other guy to pick an option. Either way, it’s a ridiculous idea for a tshirt; either way it promotes aggression for the dumb-ass young men who’d actually buy this and wear it!

Ritzi Cortez

Claire – I was about to say the exact same thing. I had a pair of ‘Boys are stupid throw rocks at them’ PJ’s when I was in college and while it’s a tad milder, I think it could be construed as a similar thing if someone were to take it the wrong way.

Slogan T-shirts are generally vile anyway in my opinion, last week I spotted a foreign tourist buying their kid a t-shirt on the streets of Covent Garden bearing the words – ‘No I’m not on fucking facebook’ which firstly, makes no sense, and secondly, is not the kind of thing I want to see enblazoned across anyone’s chest.

It’s like the Top Gear/Loose Women debate – it’s all relative. In this case, these T-shirts went a bit too far, but I daresay there are t-shirts out there online that go a bit too far the other way too.

Mind you, we women are not stupid enough to put them on the rails in Topshop…

RCx

my honest answer

Hmmm, it’s usually pretty hard to offend me, but, ‘what breed is she’ did it. More because it smacks of racism, in my opinion.

But yeah, they are ridiculous. Claire and Ritzi, I kind of agree, but I also refuse to buy any mugs that say ridiculous things about ‘men’ or ‘husband’s on them. Generalisations p*ss me off. They’ll stop making it if people stop buying it.

A Thrifty Mrs

Did you see the reaction to it on the Topman Facebook page? *face palm*

Josh

I totally agree with the points made, although do you not think that Topman could be relishing the PR that this is bringing? After all they do love a bit of risque publicity

Linds

Oh, the Facebook page must have changed a lot after I looked at it, because I was going to saw I was gladdened that a few trolls commented but a lot of men were challenging their ignorant views!

Chrissy

You don’t see the funny side of this? I’m female and I find them hilarious! I wish they hadn’t taken them off the shelves yet, I want one of each! haha xx

angel_dee

Forgetting the top on the left for a minute, I assume you haven’t had yourself or a friend been physically abused by a partner as the one of the right is most definitely NOT hilarious.

Tracey Kwan

Bags, I want to take a look at the article you did on sports bras…where can I find that one? Need one…took up jogging…know you will understand!!!

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